Once an ecological creek restoration project has begun, it should not impaired by practices on private land or human resistance on public land in the form of lawsuits.
When a project such as the Putah Creek Restoration reaches the starting point, there has already been years of preparation, planning, proposals, arguments, submittal for permits, court actions, changes to plans, headaches and even a little crying. Beginning an environment-altering project is no easy task.
Scientific study after other scientific studies have all concluded that “hands on” management is needed to restore “hands off” wilderness character.” Just reaching the starting point of a creek restoration requires the approval of a myriad of local, state and federal government agencies. These agencies examine such a project and either approve or demand changes at every level; every step of the job to be done is looked at. Like I said, “No easy task.”
Creek restoration work is still in its learning stage, so if something doesn’t work, other avenues will be explored until the problem is resolved. Every step of the way, everything done is considered, examined and resolved by the greatest of our minds, and then approved by government officials. There is little room for error, but there will always be those that will think differently. There will always be human resistance.
Hardin’s paper, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” (1968) describes how property owners sometimes feel that they have the right to do what they want on their property. This often causes damage to adjacent or even distant ecosystems. These problems have continued for some 4,000 years, as evidenced by the inclusion of several laws in the famous Code of Hammurabi that dealt with the use of irrigation water. Individual and public behavior will always be modified for the betterment of others.
If this was not so, projects involving the environment would be next to impossible to fund in that those who provide the money ask, “ Why should they fund a project to restore a damaged ecosystem if misuse of common or private land can, in a very short time, can erase the labor of years or decades?” Ecological restoration cannot be impaired by practices on private land or on public land via lawsuit.
Anything private environmental protection groups such as “Friends of Putah Creek” can point to is already being examined and monitored by publicly funded government organizations such as Fish and Game, Department of the Interior, and county and federal government. Lawsuits that are designed to stop a creek restoration project are detrimental to the public domain and can cause a huge increase in project cost.
Phase III of the Winters Putah Creek Nature Park Restoration Project has been held up for some time now because of a lawsuit filed that apparently wants to keep a good portion of the project that lies smack in the middle of the park untouched by restoration personnel or machines.
This restoration project is an investment in our future. It deserves a high level of stewardship but halting the work is not acceptable, for eventually the funds we don’t use will end up somewhere else down the creek. That’s just the way it works, I don’t care what anyone says, I have found this to be true. Funding usually goes where it is wanted and used.
(Some of this information was gathered from: “The Handbook of Ecological Restoration: Volume 1, Principles of Restoration,” edited by Martin R. Perrow and Anthony J. Davy.)